|Interview with Star India VP content and communications Deepak Segal
way of thinking is bound to show up in Star TV's programming "
on 30 October 2003
Segal had films in his blood but hated watching them as a kid.
is what excited him. Segal is a walking encylopeadia on aircraft.
Be it World War II planes or the recently retired Concorde, he has
all you want to know about planes down pat.
of well known Hindi filmmaker Mohan Segal, it was however the wildlife
that got him hooked and started on his celluloid trip. From then
on, it was a journey that comprised stints at the Pune Film Institute,
courses in photography, film editing, camerawork, the works. It
was also at the FTII that the young Segal learnt that it was editing
which really elevated the language of film to a fine art.
Govind Nihalani gave him his first break and Bharat
honed his editing skills. An extensive stint with Govind Nihalani's
Telefilms and Anant Balani's Works later, Segal was roped in by
a friend into the fledgling Star as a supervising producer in 1995-96.
Those were the days when the only Indian content going on air on
Star Plus was the Road
Show, the Amul India Show
A year later, when Rathikant Basu joined the organisation, Segal
quit, preferring to go back into the field and express his creative
freedom with documentaries. By 1999, Basu had left and Sameer Nair
(now the COO), convinced Segal to return to Star TV.
every time I quit to try something on my own, Star has managed to
pull me back at that very time," he laughs.
at Star, Segal spent time hands on with the conceptualisation and
the making of Star Bestsellers, Rajdhani, Saans and Kora
Kagaaz, all of which did well, but none which really turned
Then Kaun Banega Crorepati happened. Segal was the one Nair
threw the concept at first, and Segal roped in Nitin Desai who had
earlier worked on Discovery of India, knowing Desai would
execute a perfect job of replicating the original Who Wants to
Be A Millionaire set, a pre-requisite set down by Amitabh Bachchan.
had to be the Big B or no other," reminisces Segal three years later,
recalling how Bachchan spun out the famous KBC dialogues
extempore in the make up room of the set.
Katial (whose shoes Segal has stepped into) joined three months
after Segal did. While Segal has been around in the organisation
for far longer, he still credits Tarun with bringing in the 'audience
tastes' factor into the programming equation. Katial was the one
who realised the potential of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
and then Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii. "We should have been
at loggerheads, but rather we grew up together in this place," laughs
a matter of fact, Segal can detect humour in most situations, and
if colleagues at Star are to be believed, affability is his middle
name. At first impression though, Segal seems a complete misfit
in the corporate Star outfit. A creative person to his marrow, Segal
says he initially found Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii too hard to
digest. "Tarun and Sameer had to convince me to go ahead with it."
years down the line, Segal is a much changed man. The same Segal
who once swore by Auteur's theory, which says that film as a work
of art is independent of the audience, has remoulded himself. "The
challenge for me today is to make the viewer cry and laugh with
the kind of shows available." This, from a man whose documentary
has been sent for the Wisdom Tree Festival!
agrees. "Experimentation takes a backseat on television," he sighs.
But Segal's enthusiasm apparently never does. He is as enthused
about the new soap concept he is toying with as with the next trek
he is planning for the weekend. "TV is never out of your system,"
he points out. This creative powerhouse who once created films for
his own satisfaction, today considers every viewer before he takes
a programming decision.
"When you are making a film, you make it and it's over. Not so with
television, you have got to go on innovating and re-inventing,"
But there are no regrets. He believes the best results come when
creativity is focused, as his is now on television.
was a good concept with good timing... it's essentially an
'Ugly Duckling' story. If I worked a Cinderalla concept and
weaved it into a series, it would do just as well"
the irreverent streak is bound to show through. With Tarun out of
the frame, will we see perceptible changes in Star Plus' programming?
"Obviously, although we complemented each other perfectly, our individual
ways of thinking are bound to show in the programming. Tarun was
young, single and in a hurry. As for me, I am married, with a family...,"
he trails off with a laugh.
But behind the light exterior, is a mind that ferments forever with
new concepts and toys with genres. His is the brain that has been
with Star since the initial The Bold and The Beautiful days,
seen it through the Saans phase, exulted with the KBC
- Kyunki wave and is still there, stirring up ideas for the
next blockbuster on TV. All through, Segal however, has stayed behind
the curtain, while the rest of the cast came forward to take the
"I hate playing to the gallery. I don't have it in me to party,
to go forth and socialise...," he explains. Which is why, after
a 12-hour a day week, he unwinds with his two young daughters and
film editor wife Bela, preferring to go on treks and picnics.
is there ever a danger of Segal the filmmaker sometime simply shaking
off the shackles of a regular job and reverting to his first love
"No, not till I retire at least," is the pat reply, and you know
that 'papa' Segal is the solid creative pillar the Star family can
bank on for many years to come.
"There's just too much
misery around. So, what does work is pure escapism. If I
made a story of a superhuman who can just fight the ills
of society by crushing all evil, it would be a superhit
in today's times"
Segal agenda for Star Plus in the months ahead -
on Segal's agenda is a revamp of the weekend programming on Star
Plus and an injection of some children's shows, a genre which he
thinks will rule the short term television future.
the newly launched Aman Verma starrer Jaaduu, the re-run
of the Khullja Sim Sim celebrity episodes and the fresh edition
of Gharwali Uparwali (complete with a child), Segal now intends
to beef up Saturdays with a late night soap with a difference. To
be launched shortly, the new show will have a 'story with a twist'.
used to be a dreamer, probably still am. The minute I get
an idea for a story, I narrate it to someone and if that person
appreciates it... there I go and celebrate the silver jubilee
of the film in my mind!""
on the list is a kids' show with the immortal childrens' classic
Hatim Tai as its theme. To be produced by the Sagars' production
house, Hatim Tai too has been in the pipeline for a while.
Segal says he was initially turned off by the pilot that the Sagars
put forth, but the show has been re-invented to his liking and should
take off soon.
now re-christened Koi Aa Raha Hai Waqt Badalne, from the
Balaji stable, too has been delayed, but that's because Segal is
loathe to putting on air a product that falls short of his exacting
"We will put it up when we are sure the timing and the product is
right." Both new shows should be on air by the next quarter.
Coming back to Segal's love for aeroplanes. Managing a smooth take-off
is what he should do with Star Plus as he pilots it down the runway
for its next flight.